Facility dog to comfort victims added to EBR District Attorney's office

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As a junior prosecutor handling sex crime cases for the East Baton Rouge District Attorney's Office, Louise Hines Myers sees some of the metro area's most grueling and gruesome cases.

"We see some pretty bad stuff," said Hines Myers.

Part of that job is coaxing out the painful testimony of victims who are often just kids.

"You can imagine being put into a system that you didn't choose to be in and all the stress associated with what we do, it's problematic," said District Attorney Hillar Moore.

However, the prosecutor has a new partner whose life is dedicated to easing that stress.

Born in California, he went through intensive training in New Orleans and Orlando to hone his discipline and skills. His wet nose and wagging tail don't hurt first impressions either.

"He's got these eyes that you want to snuggle with and he loves it when you snuggle with him," said Hines Myers.

Diesel is a 2-year-old lab retriever mix, and he's East Baton Rouge's first courtroom facility dog. With a sleepy and calm disposition, he will work with kids going through the court system and even accompany them while they testify if needed. His tendency to lie down and nap for hours on end made him perfect for the court room environment.

Hines Myers explained that if the facility dog is needed in court, he will be hidden under the witness stand so the jury is not swayed or distracted by his presence.

For victims, she said Diesel provides a comforting, non-judgmental presence.

"There's this unconditional love and cold nose waiting for you when you're done and when you come to the office," said Hines Myers.

The DA's office has worked for more than two years to get a dog like Diesel, who was trained by the Canine Companion for Independence program. Before CCI agreed to hand over a facility dog, the DA had to go through extensive interviews, paperwork, and training. His training is worth around $50,000, but thanks a partnership between the Justice Department and the CCI, Diesel was given to the EBR District Attorney's Office for free.

The dog knows about 40 commands, including how to open doors and push close drawers.

Just a few weeks after being "sworn in" as a court officer, he's already working to comfort victims and his new coworkers.

"Anything we can do to relieve the stress on the victims, it's better for everyone," said Moore.

"He helps people who are doing the job as well as the people who are in need of justice. He's just wonderful," said Hines Myers.

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